Rapid Intervention Frees Stuck Valve at a Major Platform in the Gulf of Mexico

Published: 08/31/2022

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After installing a completion at a deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico, the operator tried to use pressure cycling to open a third-party ball valve nd restart the well, but the valve remained stuck. The operator first suspected there might be debris on top of the valve, but slickline operations using drive-down bailers did not show any debris inside the bailer.

The slickline intervention could not fully confirm the presence of debris, given the lack of a downhole depth-measurement device to precisely identify holdup depth. Needing to resume operations quickly, the operator asked Schlumberger for an emergency mobilization to help resolve the situation.

Rapid intervention within 24 hours

The Schlumberger team arrived on site and started the intervention within 24 hours. Due to a 2.57-in downhole restriction, Schlumberger chose to deploy its 21/8-in ReSOLVE iX extreme-performance instrumented wireline intervention service, which uses a high-force anchor-linear actuator and active debris removal tools.

Estimating the height of debris is critical for formation isolation valveshifting operations where a fixed distance from a closed ball to the contingency profile can mean that a debris column can prevent a successful mechanical shifting operation. If this factor is misjudged, the shifting tool could pack debris on top of the valve, which would compromise the wireline’s ability to remove it and trigger a coiled tubing mobilization.

Precise depth measurements for actuator alignment

To assess the holdup depth with precision, the ReSOLVE iX service uses a highly sensitive active CCL, which maps geometry changes with high fidelity, even for Inconel® completions. The log signature modeled by the completion mapping tool helped to optimize the CCL position inside the BHA, ensuring that the completion and the logs were in precise agreement.

After an accurate depth correlation—observed in real time through wireline instrumentation—it became apparent that the active debris removal tool had reached the ball valve. The debris removal tool was then activated and a small amount of debris was collected.

Real-time monitoring of the pump load had already confirmed that there wasn’t a significant amount of debris present, and the small quantity of metallic particles, O-rings, and other debris recovered at the surface proved the assumption. With the ball valve now cleared, the operator then decided to proceed with the shifting intervention.

Real-time log measurements helped to confirm that the actuator tool had reached the valve.
Real-time log measurements helped to confirm that the actuator tool had reached the valve and could begin to free it.
Real-time log measurements helped to confirm that the actuator tool had reached the valve.

High-expansion tool operates through narrow restrictions

The large 4.378-in ID of the ball valve required a shifting tool with a high-expansion ratio to properly engage it. Due to its unique design, the ReSOLVE iX service’s smart shifting tool was able to reach the target after passing through a narrow 2.57-in restriction. Once in contact with the valve, the tool’s unique profiling feature used indirect caliper measurements to create a profile of the valve sleeve for precise manipulation. Real-time measurements confirmed that the shifting key was properly seated inside the valve’s shifting profile and ready to activate.

Pump load measurements confirmed that a small amount of debris obstructed the valve.
Pump load measurements confirmed that a small amount of debris obstructed the valve. Once this was removed to the surface using the active debris removal tool, manipulation of the valve could begin.
The opening of the ball valve began and immediately created a pressure loss at the surface. The ReSOLVE iX service applied the maximum force of 9,700 lbf for 2 min until the pressure stabilized and the displacement matched the stroking length, after which the full force was applied for an additional 8 min until the temperature stabilized inside the well. At that point, the shifter and the anchor were closed and the BHA pulled out of the hole.

This rapid and precise intervention avoided the mobilization of a coiled tubing unit, which is more challenging on deepwater offshore rigs. After a successful intervention, the operator resumed production without further impediments

Gulf of Mexico, United States, North America, Offshore

Opening the 4.378-in ID ball valve required a shifting tool small enough to pass through a narrow 2.57-in restriction, but with a large-enough expansion ratio to properly engage the valve.